Summary: I believe that God who showered His blessings & protection on Israel of old has done the same for us. And as he looked for a harvest of righteousness & justice from them, so is He also looking for such a harvest from us. (Powerpoints available - #299)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #299.)
A. A few years ago, down in TX, I spent 6 days on jury duty, most of that time as a juror in a child custody case. The father of a 12 year old boy was seeking primary custody of his son from the boy's mother.
It was quite an eye opening experience, & I want to tell you about it for just a few minutes. Of course, I'm not going to mention any names.
The mother, 31 years old, had 5 children by 4 different men, & was never married to any of them. She & her children had moved often, living with different men each time.
At various times the children had been parceled out to live with her mother who had had 3 children without benefit of marriage, or with her sister who had 2 children & had never been married, either.
This young mother had been arrested frequently for public intoxication, & had disappeared for days at a time, leaving her children behind.
She had often been fined for public intoxication & for traffic violations, but had never paid any of the fines. So there were outstanding arrest warrants with her name on them.
Even though some of these warrants were 5 years old at the time, she had never been served, possibly because then the court would have been responsible for taking care of her 5 children. And the mother knew it.
Shortly after the boy in question was born, the boy's father had moved away & had straightened out his life. He started attending church, began a business, developed a good reputation, & gotten married.
He acknowledged his responsibility for the boy & for years had regularly provided child support. As a result, for most of the boy's life, the father had been allowed custody of the boy each summer.
But when the boy was 10 years old the mother told the father that she would never let him see the boy again. So when he wasn't allowed to have the boy that next summer, he began this child custody lawsuit.
Meanwhile, the mother & her 5 children & her sister with her 2 children were living together in welfare provided housing. Eighteen months ago, a man had moved in with her, & a couple of weeks before this trial started they had gotten married. Five days later, both of them were arrested for selling cocaine.
And it wasn't for the first time. A month before that he had been arrested for exactly the same reason. Now the man was in jail. But the authorities dismissed the charges against her so that she could take care of her children.
Of course, I'm skipping a lot of the sordid details, but you've heard enough to get the picture. So when the case was turned over to the jury, I assumed that it would take just one vote to turn the boy over to his father. But boy, was I wrong! The first vote was 9 to 3 for the mother!
As we discussed it, I was amazed that more than half of the jury saw nothing wrong with the mother's lifestyle, the large number of men she had been involved with (a lot more than just those who fathered children by her), & her many arrests for public intoxication.
“After all, I like to party on weekends, too!” said one juror. Another juror, a woman social worker, said, “There's nothing wrong with her. That's the way everybody lives today.”
Only one juror on her side expressed concern at all about the drug dealing & the items seized by the drug agents. Here they were, living on welfare, & in their welfare-provided housing they had 4 expensive TV's, 4 top of the line VCR's, 3 camcorders, numerous cameras, gold jewelry, lots of cash, & many other costly appliances, some of which were just stuck away in the closets.
One juror said, “After all, we don't know that these items were bought with drug money. Maybe she just saved money from her welfare checks. Or maybe they were gifts people gave her. Anyway, there's no evidence the boy has been harmed. He makes average grades in school, so the way she lives hasn't affected him.”
Yet, his report cards showed that 7 of his last 10 teachers in elementary school marked him “unsatisfactory” in “Conduct” in his attitudes & actions at school.
The jury foreman was an Asst. Principal, & he & the social worker were the most vocal in saying that the mother's lifestyle had no effect on the boy. The Asst. Principal said his “unsatisfactory” marks in “Conduct” were probably the result of poor teachers rather than anything the boy did.